Monthly Archives: April 2013

Mounting anxiety

tense_dog

I’m not profiting from this blog, so I hope the genius who took this photo will forgive me…

It’s only a few days to go until my mega-holiday in the USA, and I’m on the verge of total panic.  Admittedly, it’s not the kind of horror I felt in January 2012 when I faced the prospect of being homeless due to my own stupidity, but I’m still very nervous and apprehensive about my two weeks of camping in America.  But why, I hear you ask?  Why am I not delightedly looking forward to it?  Well, I am, as it happens, because even if I don’t meet any girls, I’ll still see some remarkable places that I’ve never visited before.

But let’s look at the aspects that intimidate me, because going into it will help me see just how ridiculous I’m being (remember, this blog is for me, not for you, peasant):

  1. Apart from a day trip to Paris last September (which doesn’t count), it’s the first time I’ll have been out of the country since going to Turkey in 2008 with my friends, a holiday I had no part in arranging.  Yeah, it’s high time I got out of my comfort zone, but it’s still a daunting prospect.  It’s also the first time I’ll have been out of the country for longer than a week since 2003, when I visited my friends in Michigan for two weeks.  I visited them again in 2006 and 2007, but only for a week each time…
  2. Having not visited the USA since 2007, and never the west coast, I can’t help but wonder how things will be, especially for a vegetarian like me — to some Americans, I’m nothing but a no-good pinko Commie who needs to get normal…
  3. So many things can go wrong along the way, like not getting to the airport on time, or being turned away by the US border agency…
  4. My landlord just died, and although supposedly nothing has the potential to happen until October (like, his widow selling the house instead of letting us continue renting), it’s just another excuse to worry…
spock_eyebrow

“To fret over an exciting holiday is not logical”

But don’t worry, maybe it won’t be so bad — see, every problem has a solution:

  1. In 1998 I managed to face a journey to the USA that would last eight months — admittedly it wasn’t certain to be going ahead, and really I was surprised that final weekend when my mother and grandfather came bounding into my room to tell me my visa had been approved, and that I was going to travel the next day!
  2. Since we’re cooking for ourselves on this camping trip, there should be no problem other than availability of ingredients — I don’t know whether there’s a freezer on the tour bus, but if there is, presumably I can buy vegetarian “fake meat” in LA or Frisco for the journey ahead.
  3. My newest friend has agreed to drive me to Heathrow on Saturday (yes, I’ll pay for his petrol), and I’ve printed out all my necessary documents, including my “visa waiver” and itinerary.  That reminds me, better look up the ZIP code of the hotel I go to first, as I’ve been warned by a friend at work that I’ll need this specific information… he also advised me not to try to be funny with US customs (well, duh), but hey, if I got past them before, I can do so again, because I’m not a terrorist, I’m a tourist!
  4. Although it’s sad that my landlord died, since he was better than the past two by far (and a rather more approachable individual to boot), there’s no way we could be evicted on such short notice, so all I have to worry about is the house getting burgaled or burned down, or nuclear war breaking out while I’m gone.  See?  No problem!

Ahh, that was therapeutic — see, nothing to get upset about, I’ll have an amazing adventure etc. etc.  Maybe I should worry more about the possibility that I’ll come back exactly the same person I am now, who gets anxious about stupid little things instead of embracing life’s surprises…

And yes, I will be listening to Gwar during this holiday (something familiar to keep me calm if I get anxious again), as well as other music; I’ve spent ages trying to figure out how to get “gapless playback” on my smartphone, and have settled for WMA files and Poweramp (though I wasted most of Sunday ripping everything as “WMA lossless”, only to discover it doesn’t work with that particular format yet).  In fact, I predict this will become our anthem as we roll along the blacktop…

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Cool things: Beavis and Butt-head

beavbuttEverything I’ve posted here under “cool things” has been something that’s cheered me up when I’ve been down at some point in my life, and this cartoon duo is no exception.  Why, there was a day in 1996, around the time I made my first futile attempt to ask a girl out and, through a chain of circumstance that I won’t endeavour to explain, had a massive falling-out with my grandparents (with whom I lived at the time), that the antics of this pair of sniggering filthy-minded American teenagers lifted my spirits until my mother could mediate the dispute…

Umm… what’s this dude saying, Butt-head?
Uhh… I dunno.  But he’s talking like a buttmunch.
Yeah, really.  Change the channel!
You’re the one with the remote, Beavis, you change it.

Don’t tell me what to do, bunghole!

That was cool!  Hey, is that Dave-loss dude, like, still talking about stuff that sucks?

…although my friends thought it was juvenile and looked down on me even more for being a fan, the show kept me going during those depressing days at university when, much like this duo, I couldn’t get a girlfriend…

Uh huh huh huh, what a wussie.
Yeah really, even Winger would kick him in the nads, heh heh hm heh heh.
Uhh… change the channel, maybe there’s, like, something on that doesn’t suck.

Change it back, maybe that dude’s, like, started talking about something cool, like explosions or naked chicks.
Yeah, yeah, explosions!  Heh heh hm heh heh, ffffire!
Shut up Beavis, you’ll get us, like, banned by MTV again, or something.

…went back to see the film a second time, and I was the only person in the room, so I put my feet up on the seat in front, Travis Bickle-style, and naturally got it on video when it came out…

Uh huh huh huh huh, “came out”.
Umm… what movie’s he talking about?
Uhhh… who cares, he’s a stupid bungwipe.  Change the channel, maybe there’s, like, something about butts.

Uh huh huh huh, one day I’m gonna get, like, a tattoo of a butt, with a butt-shaped tattoo on it, on my butt.  That would be cool, uh huh huh huh!
Yeah, me too.  That would rule, heh heh hm heh heh!
Uhh… oh no, that wussie’s back on again.

…bought several of the videos, though sadly they were consumed in the terrible purge of January 2012, and later got hold of the official DVDs, though they’re edited, which sucks (not just to remove the music video reviews, but also to take out random bits of episodes for no reason).  Fortunately, my newest friend (the guy I go climbing with) got hold of the entire series in unedited form…

Uh huh huh huh, censorship is cool.  Like, when they put those black bars on people’s thingies?

Uhh… dammit, that Rave-dos dude keeps coming on the TV.  He must be, like, on every channel or something.
Nyaaah, butthole, get the hell off our TV, dammit!!!

Don’t change it, dude — he must be about to say something cool, like, because of the law of beverages, or something.

…and since I’ve been watching the entire series on my smartphone on my long Tube journeys in the mornings, I’ve discovered that I’m a metal fan, getting into bands like Black Sabbath and Gwar, who have helped me overcome the depression that blighted…

Check it out, he said “long tube”!  Heh heh hm heh heh, boioioioioing!
Shut up Beavis, he also said “Gwar”.  Uh huh huh huh, Gwar rules!
Yeah, really!  I wonder if there’s, like, a video on.
..

That was cool!  Is there anything else, like, on?  Uh huh huh huh, “on”.
Um… no, it’s that wussie again.  Dammit, he makes me want to get some nachos.
Uhh… why?
Um… so I wouldn’t, like, be here, watching him on TV, heh heh hm heh heh.

…watching the series right from the beginning, since I’m a purist and have also been re-reading Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels from the start, and putting whole albums on my smartphone instead of specific tracks…

Uhh… this sucks — like, he won’t shut up and stuff.  Like, it’s the same stuff over and over again.  Uh huh huh huh huh huh…
Yeah, heh heh heh hm heh heh, he needs to get some, like, new ideas or something.
Uhh… what should we do, like, while we wait for him to not be talking and stuff?
Um… let’s go break something!

Uh huh huh huh, yeah, that would be cool.

My religious convictions

“There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.  There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”
— Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

religious_conviction

Religious conviction, geddit?  Er… just be thankful I haven’t mentioned “Surfin’ Bird” in this post

I think the time has come to make it clear what it is I believe, and what I don’t.  And aren’t you glad I waited until well after the Easter weekend to do this, after somehow managing to write my rant against misandry on International Women’s Day?

First of all: no, I’m not a Christian, and never have been.  Even though a nice lady at work tells me I “need” to go to church (though she is from an African country where the Christian faith is probably stronger than here), and even despite the best efforts of “female best friend” to convert me, I just don’t believe it.  I do agree with some of what the Man Jesus seems to say, if you consider all the mistranslations and paraphrasings and out-of-context meanings that the Bible must be filled with, and I think it’s a shame that Christianity, like every other major religion, preaches “thou shalt not kill” yet has been used to justify slaughter in the past (and, sadly, in the present where Islam is concerned).

(Aside: who are these idiots using the Bible to decry gay marriage?  The institution wasn’t invented by Christianity (or Judaism), and so religion has no “ownership” of the concept; and if you say “but herp derp IT’S FOR PROCREATION”, do you think infertile couples and the elderly should have theirs annulled?  And oh, do you avoid all the other things in Leviticus, like shellfish and clothes made from two different types of cloth?!)

Actually, let me give you an analogy about the three main Abrahamic faiths that we in the West know and love so well (and please don’t take offence, because this is just a humorous generalisation and your own experience may vary):

  • Islam is the angry hormonal teenager, who thinks (or, indeed, “knows”) that he knows everything and that everyone else just needs to get out of his way, now!
  • Christianity is the middle-aged suburbanite who tuts while reading the Daily Mail over his cornflakes, and huffs: “there ought to be a law against this kind of thing!”
  • Judaism is the old coot sitting on a rocking chair on his front porch, occasionally muttering to himself: “I warned ’em, didn’t I warn ’em?  Hell in a handbasket!”

I won’t comment on other faiths because I know so little about them, but Buddhism seems to be the least offensive of all, because it boils down to, “don’t worry, be happy”, rather than “obey the people who apparently know exactly what God wants you to do, or you’ll burn in HAYULL!!!”.  And I won’t say anything about Scientology beyond the fact that I don’t even consider it a cult, I consider it a SCAM.  That’s my opinion and I’m allowed to state it, so I hope WordPress won’t be e-mailing me in a panic because lawyers are sniffing around (they’re probably still picking up the pieces after that DDoS during the week — glad my blog wasn’t hacked, although who’d notice?).

I won’t state “facts” about religions or the meaning of life because, in my opinion, we cannot “know” anything for certain, even if we think we do: we only know what our brains struggle to piece together from our senses and our memories, neither of which are 100% reliable.  I don’t even know if I’m sitting here typing out this garbage: I’ve been feeling quite tired this evening, and it could all be a dream.  Well, let’s be honest, a nightmare.  This is why I consider all religions to be at least partially wrong: we can’t know what the meaning of life is, or whether God exists and what He/She/It wants us to do, and to claim to do so is an act of supreme arrogance.

I think religion was, and is, a means of mass control: I’ve known for years that people will do things for their deity that they won’t do for their government (though the devotion of some Americans to their flag approaches religious fervour — I can’t understand caring so much about a bit of cloth, but then again I feel the same way about sport, so what do I know?).  The problem is that it relies on the people in charge being honest, sane, and intelligent, and I wonder whether many religious leaders in the world today score even one out of three!  In addition, there’s still a lot of reliance on ancient texts that were written when people still thought everything happened for a reason rather than “just because” — remember that the Greeks and Romans believed “ideas” were thoughts put into their heads by the gods, and that plagues were Apollo firing arrows rather than germs spreading through human contact, so why should the Israelites have been any more scientific?  “This happened because God willed it, that’s all you need to know!”

I don’t like the thought of a few people being invested with this much power over others, but for the time being it remains a fact of life.  So, what’s my brilliant solution?  Well, I don’t want to stop people believing (though I’d certainly like to stop people being Beliebers, the guy is an idiot!) — I think religion should be more of a personal and spiritual journey, rather than a game of me-too.  Take everything people say with a pinch of salt — you wouldn’t go for the first quote you received for expensive work to be done (unless you’re a politician and have shares in… oh, sorry!), so why believe only one opinion of the very fundamental nature of existence?

darktower

“Follow the path of the Beam, and remember the face of your father”

And as for my own, personal belief: well, I just don’t know — but as Terry Pratchett observes, belief isn’t the same thing as knowing.  Maybe Stephen King is right and there’s a Dark Tower at the centre of all worlds, or maybe Peter F. Hamilton has a point about a separate universe shaped by the minds of intelligent beings (some of whom — those we would consider “damned” — unfortunately gain the ability to come back and wreak havoc).

Well, come on: if you’re going to get your religion out of a book, why does it have to be an old book?

It’s one thing to follow Christianity, or any other religion, because you feel it in your heart and find that it helps you live your life: “female best friend” does this, and I respect it and wouldn’t try to change her from the path she has chosen.  However, I myself have chosen “none of the above”, and that includes the religion that this country claims to follow officially.  Hopefully I won’t do a presto-chango deathbed conversion out of fear — that wouldn’t be fair to the faith, as it would imply Christianity is nothing but an insurance policy for dying cowards, and it’s worth more than that.  If it turns out that I’m wrong and there really is a judgemental bearded man sitting on a throne in the clouds, I’ll face Him and take whatever punishment He feels I deserve.  However, I don’t believe in Hell (other than the world we’re living in), or anything eternal other than change, so I should be all right even then…

As for the meaning of life, well, perhaps Roger the Alien in the American Dad! episode “Rapture’s Delight” summed it up best:

roger_commandmentsA final thought: the phrase “God definitely exists” is true, for a given definition of “God”, “exists”, and “definitely”.  And “true”.  And, as Bill Clinton so wisely observed, it also depends what your definition of “is” is…

As one cold leaves…

beavbuttsick

“We need the leading subscription cold remedy!”

I’m hoping that the sniffles and slightly sore throat I’m feeling tonight are purely the result of the massive change in the weather we’ve had during this weekend, and not a sign of an incipient cold.  Now, admittedly I haven’t had a cold since November, or a day off work due to sickness that wasn’t self-inflicted for ages, but perhaps it’s high time?

Now, I know you all think I’m a sick individual anyway (an unrepentent vegetarian who enjoys listening to Gwar?!), so I’ll emphasise that I’m referring to physical ailments here.  On that basis, my sickness level has massively decreased over the past year: I used to get colds all the time, even in the summer (which is worse), and even during the 5-year period when I wasn’t travelling to work on the Tube every day with my nose stuck in someone’s armpit!

It’s probably my current health streak that’s reduced the regularity of my illnesses: my mother found the same improvement when she began exercising with a vengeance (and, it has to be said, gave up the cancer sticks), though she still caught something at Christmas, so she’s not invulnerable (yet).  I still occasionally think (as I am tonight) that I might be coming down with something, which makes me worry that I might be a hypochondriac!  (Oh, wait, did I already do that joke?)

Morale and enjoyment of life also seems to affect sickness rates.  During one bad year of my school life, I remember “getting sick” on a very frequent basis, to the point where I think I may well have been skiving; by contrast, I only had one sick day in the following two school years (when I was at an all-boys school, without stupid girls to get in the way… hey, I was only 12-13!), and to add insult to injury, I missed out on a Drama lesson in which everyone did Thunderbirds sketches!  Sickness then returned when we moved to Worthing, but that’s understandable — the sea air is not for everyone…

Since coming of age, I’ve always been worried about seeming like a skiver for taking sick days off work, but when I first became a permanent member of staff at my current employer (in a different department to today) after nearly a year as a temp, my boss said he’d seen me come in on days when he reckoned I was so ill I really shouldn’t have!  It’s mostly been sniffles and minor cases of “whatever’s going around the office”, but one time in my current role, I got spoken to about my sickness level — working in the dusty file archive had made me sick during my first few months there, and then…

Oh yes, that bout of gastroenteritis in February 2010, when I’d been in my job for almost a year and was about to have my annual appraisal.  I reckon it was because I’d found my old Atari Lynx at home in Worthing, and unboxed it for the first time in probably a decade; I always used to play on it in bed when I was off sick from school, so perhaps an old cold virus had mutated over the years, turning it into Pandora’s Box…

lynx

That’s L-Y-N-red X on the door

It was a Sunday night and I’d just blown a load of dust out of my computer while watching Flash Gordon on TV, when I felt the need to… okay, I’ll spare you the details, but suffice to say it was at least 24 hours before I could even drink water and keep it down for any length of time.  I must have lost a stone in weight (and then quickly put it back on again, alas), and there were times I was afraid I might die… and times I was afraid I might not.  It took four days before I could face going back to work, and even then, I took Friday morning off to see the quack for reassurance (on the urging of “other female best friend”, who had had the bacteriological version of the condition, and wanted me to make sure I wouldn’t get it again).

Anyway, enough gruesome discussion of morbidity — the fact is that I haven’t had a cold since November (I really should arrange to give blood some time soon, as it’s been too long), and I reckon it’s down to the improvement in my fitness… though probably also overcoming depression and general low feelings.

Wouldn’t it be depressing if I caught cold just before my holiday to the USA next month?  No, no, happy thoughts, happy thoughts, rolling fields of corn basking in the glorious American sunlight, as hordes of varsity cheerleaders swarm around me and pledge their undying love… ah, that’s better.

There’s another explanation for my possible malaise: as I said, there was a seismic shift in the weather this weekend — from the dismal cold and rain we’ve endured since, er, October, to relative dryness and the presence of a strange orange-yellow globe in the sky — and I’ve sadly been getting allergic reactions to pollen and such since coming to London.  So, it might just be plain old hay fever I’m getting.

Oh no, hay fever — and I’m standing in a corn field!  Quick, girls, carry me to the Olympic-sized hot tub!

Where are you Daveyyy?

beavbutt

Dun, dun-dun, dun, dun-dun-dun —
DEATH POD COMES FROM THE SKYYY!

Good $DEITY, has it been over a week since I last posted something here?  Well, don’t worry, I’m still alive, and things have progressed a bit here and there.  Here’s one of those bullet point updates I always end up doing:

  • I’m still listening to Gwar — oh boy, am I ever.  I’ve got what I consider their first two albums, Scumdogs of the Universe and America Must Be Destroyed* (Hell-O doesn’t really count due to its poor sound quality), and listen to songs from them on a regular basis.  In fact, my work colleagues are lucky I have an Android phone and not something from Apple, or I’d tell Siri to “play some Gwar” whenever the annoying woman starts up.
  • Speaking of work, I think I’m gonna have to jump ship in the not too distant future — I hope I’m not giving away where I work (because obviously I don’t want to be made to walk the plank, as it were), but we’re moving to a big new building at King’s Cross where we’ll all have to hotdesk and use laptops instead of proper computers, and we won’t even have phones, we’ll be using a corporate equivalent of MSN Messenger!  Hopefully Barnet council will realise the error of its ways and bring its services back in-house (rather than farming them out to private companies, watching them collapse and then passing them to even more expensive private companies), and I’ll be able to get a job there… maybe in IT?  A guy can dream, can’t he?
  • My mother says the wardrobe will be sorted on Thursday, and I can easily afford to pay the carpenter (and his man) to do it, so that particular nightmare is almost over, and I’ll have atoned for my foolish mistake on Not Very Good Friday.  I won’t be able to come home to help, however, as I’ll be here taking delivery of a chair…
  • The chair will, but for a new computer desk, complete the reimaging of my room here in north London.  I made a lot of compromises when I first came here, just to get everything unpacked and vaguely organised, but recently I sold off one of my bookcases, and have been able to reorganise everything to at least give the illusion of more space.  I even got myself a new surround sound system for the computer (which will probably draw complaints if I play Gwar too loudly).
  • My health continues to improve, and not only did I walk a long way today to the monthly Japanese meet-up event in Leicester Square (visiting my old haunts, such as Forbidden Planet), but tomorrow I’ve got another session with my personal torturer!  I can now do the Wii Fit Plus thing on a bigger TV screen, but I’m going to have to find a place in my room where the floor is actually, like, level…
  • It’s less than a month to my holiday in America, and naturally I’m afraid something will go wrong in the meantime, but don’t worry, I’ll see it through.  I’ll bring back pictures, don’t worry… which reminds me, I need a new camera…
  • Although I haven’t done any work on the Dalek strategy game for a while, I did get the chance to play the classic Dune II online during Easter, and it inspired me: in all probability I could write a “better” game than that (not that it’s poor, just that it lacks a lot of modern features, such as movement at angles other than 45° or multiple unit selection), and thus the only limit is my imagination, and my general slothfulness!
  • I’m unmoved by the recent death of Margaret Thatcher: I’m not sad she’s gone, but I’m not about to dance on her grave either.  She was a fixture of my childhood (I’m old enough to remember before they put cameras in Parliament), but I disagree with a lot of her policies and general hatred for “socialism” (not to mention the fact that Tony Blair seems to have been inspired by her).  It’s notable that I live in the constituency where she first became an MP, yet the Barnet Tories clearly don’t like to remember her — perhaps because she wasn’t a fan of corruption, deceit and the gravy train of expenses, eh?  Eh?

(* CIA, please note: the title of this Gwar album does not reflect my own personal views, and I wish for America to continue to ever-greater things for the foreseeable future.  Whaddaya mean, I’m of no concern to you?  Bah!)

Overall I’m doing okay, but I’ll continue writing this blog, simply because it might help others escape depression.  I’m no Messiah, I’m just an average Joe Bloggs (ooh, a pun!), but if by posting stuff here I can show even one person that there’s a better way than self-loathing and pessimism, my life will have been worth it.

Unless he becomes the next Hitler or something…!

Cool things: Eminem

mnm

“Hi kids, do you like violence?”

Listening to Gwar, the most gleefully hideous rock group on the planet (or off it), has reminded me of another time in my life that I got into the music of a sick yet humorous mind.  It was late 2000, and even though I hadn’t cared for “The Real Slim Shady” (and didn’t even know “My Name Is” was by the same artist!), I’d enjoyed “Stan” enough to ask my mother to get me The Marshall Mathers LP for Christmas.  And so it was that I listened to what I later discovered was Eminem’s second non-underground album…

I was horrified.

No, that’s not an April Fool, I genuinely found my blood curdled the first time I listened to that album, and I fervently hoped that my mother had kept the receipt so she could take it back… but don’t worry, even on that first run-through I detected the wisdom in some of his lyrics (berating parents for not taking care of their children and blaming society instead may seem trite now, but back in the day it was a novel concept).  And, as time went by, I found myself desensitised to his songs, and even got my head around the idea that he’s, y’know, funny (as in ha-ha, though he is probably touched in the head too) — though it was a while before I could listen to “Kim” again…

Having successfully grown a pair, in early 2001 I bought his first proper album, The Slim Shady LP, and found it almost entirely inoffensive (I actually joked about taking it back to the shop on the grounds that my copy must be defective!) but funny, and rather less earnest than his second one — so if I’d encountered them in order, maybe I wouldn’t have been such a wuss?  Anyway, it cheered me up after I got fired from a half-decent job in April that year: if Mr. Shady could bounce back after the horrible, soul-crushing life he had, what problems did I really have, considering I had a roof over my head, food on the table and a good relationship with my mother?  I never got beaten up badly at school (certainly not to the point of going into a coma), and while I felt like a failure for being unemployed despite my university education (or because of it, this being Worthing, after all), I felt that if young Marshall Mathers could have kept going for all those years of misery, I could too.

(Aside: I still think “’97 Bonnie & Clyde” (aka “Just the Two of Us”) is more disturbing than its prequel: while in “Kim” the character of Marshall is screaming at his wife (also played by Eminem) for driving him to what is about to become a triple-homicide, his last gasp of humanity, by the time of the original song he’s passed through this madness into the sinister calm that lies beyond, and sings to his daughter (played by his real-life daughter Hailie) about disposing of his wife’s body in the lake — and then asks her to help him with two more things out of the trunk.  The first time I heard it, I expected him to start screaming at any moment, and the fact that he didn’t made it seem all the more creepy… which, I’m sure, was his intention!)

d12

Behind Eminem, L-R: Bizarre, Kon Artis, Proof (RIP), Kuniva and Swifty

I got into other rap artists as a result of Eminem, so you can blame him for everything.  When he brought the rest of his Detroit rap collective into the limelight, D12’s Devil’s Night became the second album I ever bought while it was in the charts (after Gorillaz by, er, Gorillaz, which features a couple of raps by Del Tha Funkee Homosapien).  Even though my social life at the time consisted of hanging out with a bunch of old men in a back garden looking at stars on Friday nights, I’d still hum D12 songs like “That’s How” and, er, “S*** Can Happen” as I cycled home, and would put some tracks on when my folks had gone to sleep (but obviously not loud enough to wake them!).  I also recorded an Eminem concert (featuring the other members of D12) on Channel 4, though sadly this didn’t survive my recent VHS purge, and I’d definitely like to see it again.  For Christmas 2001 I asked my folks for Dr. Dre’s 2001 (actually released in, er, 1999) and a 2Pac greatest hits compilation, and thus my love of rap music continued.

I even remember the day in 2002, when my job at the time let us have an extra-long lunch break due to some football match or other, and I used the time to walk clear across Worthing town centre to a little music shop, where I picked up Dr. Dre’s clasic 1992 album, The Chronic (admittedly it was a 2001 re-release, which I could have bought anywhere, but it’s the adventure that counts!).  Previously at the same place I’d found what I assume to be a bootleg copy of Eminem’s original, original album Infinite, with some other tracks of his on it (and with a two-second gap between every track that makes me think it was burned in someone’s CD-R drive), and which even included the song “3hree6ix5ive”, better known as “the underground s*** you did with Skam” as mentioned in “Stan”… so, I’d come full circle!

My interest in rap, and indeed in music generally, declined a bit in the mid-noughties (due to living in a house instead of a student hall of residence, and thus legally being able to have a TV again), but in 2006 two things happened: Eminem’s best friend and fellow D12 member Proof was shot dead, and I bought my first MP3 player and started listening to music on the Tube (and later when walking to work).  I felt like I’d been out of it for too long, taken my eye off the ball (so to speak), and got back into enjoying rap once again — because you never know, especially with Detroit still being the shooting capital of America, when you might lose someone…

I’ve got every Eminem album (with the possible exception of The Slim Shady EP, but I’ve got the tracks from it that he didn’t remake for the LP version on my weird copy of Infinite), and even though I’ve never met him or interacted with him in any way (including writing obsessive Stan-style letters to him!), I still regard him as having had a major influence on my life.  I haven’t listened to him much in a while, but now I’ve copied all my Eminem, D12 and Dr. Dre albums onto my smartphone, as part of a campaign to listen to things purist-style instead of piecemeal… why, I almost hope the annoying woman makes noise at work tomorrow, because I’ve still got those noise-cancelling headphones!

And here’s the obligatory YouTube video, one of my favourite songs from his masterwork album, The Eminem Show.  It’s the clean version, alas, but I’m sure you can find the dirty version with uncensored boobies and Eminem’s bare bum… (“ooh, Matron!”)